In The Spotlight
Spanish police said Thursday they had seized over six tonnes of cocaine hidden in a shipment of bananas and arrested 16 suspects, some of them wanted in the Netherlands.
U.S.-backed Iraqi army units on Wednesday took control of the last major road out of western Mosul that had been in Islamic State's hands, trapping the militants in a shrinking area within the city, a general and residents said.
Russian-backed Syrian government forces and their allies fought their way into Palmyra on Wednesday, driving back Islamic State militants who have held the historic city since December, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group reported.
A Hezbollah-run media outlet earlier reported that the Syrian army and its allies had recaptured the Palmyra citadel, on the city's western outskirts, and seized a modern palatial complex to the southwest.
Islamic State has captured Palmyra, whose ancient ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, twice during Syria's six-year conflict.
The army recaptured the city from the ultra-hardline group in March last year, but Islamic State seized it again in December.
The group has razed ancient monuments during both of its spells in control of Palmyra - destruction the United Nations has condemned as a war crime.
A Syrian military source told Reuters earlier on Wednesday: "The army's entry to the city will begin very soon."
Robert O'Rourke aka Candidate Beto, may be the front runner for the Democratic Party, but he has a closet full of stories that may interfere with his goal of becoming President.
Beto managed to raise over 6.1 million dollars on his first day as a Presidential candidate, according to his campaign team. The funds are said to have come from online donations, through an extensive email drive.
According to NBC News, O'Rourke's campaign provided only the topline fundraising number, not more detailed information that other campaigns have disclosed, such as the number of donors and news donors, the size of the average contribution, the geographical diversity of contributors, and how much money he's raised since the first day.
While it is clear he has the team to enable him to finance his campaign run, he has an uphill battle ahead as news of past indiscretions spread across social media and start to make headlines.
O'Rourke has already humbly begged the world's pardon for his white privilege, but new stories popping up may make all but the most diehard Beto fans second guess their support.
First news came out about his arrests back in the 90's. He was charged with DWI and Attempted Burglary, although the latter charge was later dropped, as it was more of a trespass charge that resulted when he and friends got caught by Campus Police at the University of Texas at El Paso, sneaking under a fence to the physical plant building, late one evening.
By his own account, O’Rourke told a group in August 2018 that he spent a night in the El Paso County jail after what he referred to as his 1995 arrest for criminal trespass.
In San Antonio, a resident told O’Rourke she’d seen what someone described as his mugshot. O’Rourke replied: "More than 20 years ago, I was arrested--not once, but twice. So you should know that and we should all own that, if asked." O’Rourke specified that he’d been arrested for attempting to hop a fence at the University of Texas at El Paso and later, he said, for a "far more serious mistake: I drove under the influence of alcohol. There’s no justifying that."
By acknowledging his past actions, he has not only been given a pass by the media but he has gained support of several big name celebrities and sports figures. After all, no one is perfect, right.
It appears there is still more to come, as one would expect running for the highest office in the land.
Joseph Menn at Reuters had been sitting on a story, until after his unsuccessful Senate run against Ted Cruz, about his involvement as a teen in an online hacker group known as the Cult of the Dead Cow. He made several postings to their board that should at least raise a few eyebrows.
One idealistic piece he wrote as a teen contemplated a world without money. This requires not only a change of government but also a change of policy and function. The end result he envisioned would bring about the end of starvation and class distinctions.
“To achieve a money-less society (or have a society where money is heavily de-emphasized) a lot of things would have to change, including government as we know it. This is where the anti-money group and the disciples of Anarchy meet.” “I fear we will always have a system of government, one way or another, so we would have to use other means other than totally toppling the government (I don’t think the masses would support such a radical move at this time).” While the thinking maybe controversial it falls in line with those Democrats running under the Justice Democrat banner, seeking a more socialist focus.
Another more disturbing article from O’Rourke, written about dreams he was having when he was 15, may inspire some clinical psychologists to comment. “One day, as I was driving home from work, I noticed two children crossing the street. They were happy, happy to be free from their troubles…. This happiness was mine by right. I had earned it in my dreams.
“As I neared the young ones, I put all my weight on my right foot, keeping the accelerator pedal on the floor until I heard the crashing of the two children on the hood, and then the sharp cry of pain from one of the two. I was so fascinated for a moment, that when after I had stopped my vehicle, I just sat in a daze, sweet visions filling my head.”
Now imagine what the reaction would be if a Republican candidate had written that? Every amateur Democratic mental health professional would declare the candidate unfit for office. Every mainstream media outlet would be discussing this 24/7 demanding outrage from the public.
Instead we are to accept this apology:
“I’m mortified to read it now, incredibly embarrassed, but I have to take ownership of my words,” the Democratic presidential candidate said during a taping of the “Political Party Live” podcast in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “Whatever my intention was as a teenager doesn’t matter, I have to look long and hard at my actions, at the language I have used, and I have to constantly try to do better.”
Yes people change, and he was just a teenager at the time. Growing up in the age of social media, it might be harder to find candidates that didn't have something they had written they wish they could take back. But coming from the party that wants to lower the voting age to 16, it doesn't help the party he wants to lead.
His acceptance and mass appeal maybe a sign of the times, but hopefully they can do better.